A holiday company has offered to pay fines incurred by parents who book a family skiing break during term time.
It was condemned by teaching unions as irresponsibly encouraging parents to break the law but was defended by the company as helping to meet the educational needs of pupils.
The offer, which comes six months after the government introduced fines to stop parents taking children out of school for holidays. Fines of up to £60 per child can be imposed on parents, doubling if it is not paid within seven days.
In its offer, MountainBase, a company based in Bedford, said: “We have a special offer which is as follows. Book a week with children at MountainBase [and] we will if you receive a fine from your school/local authority pay the fine on copy of a receipt from yourselves.”
Holiday firms are often criticised for hiking prices during the school holidays and lowering them during term time but the company argued that it is only by increasing prices during peak times that it can stay in business.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday. Taking children out of school without permission for a holiday is a criminal offence.”